What is a Business Improvement District?

A Business Improvement District – or BID – is a way for local businesses to work together in partnership with the local authority to tackle issues that affect their trading environment. Problems which are too large or widespread for any one business to address can be solved by all businesses coming together to finance and manage improvements. This can increase footfall, make it easier to retain staff, solve difficult issues and ultimately result in higher profits. Businesses decide on a package of measures they think their area needs and then vote on whether to pay for them in a formal ballot. If the majority vote yes, and those who vote yes also represent at least 50% of the rateable value of all eligible businesses, then all contribute. The money is then collected and the services delivered.

Where else have BIDs been developed?

Businesses in hundreds of towns and cities across the country already benefit from being part of a BID. The nearest BIDs to Bournemouth are in Poole, Dorchester, Wimborne, Southampton and Winchester, and many coastal resorts such as Blackpool, Brighton and Worthing also have successful BIDs.

What can a BID do?

A BID can deliver anything its businesses decide they need as long as it is over and above what the local authority already provides. In Rugby, businesses chose to tackle the problems of anti-social behaviour, poor security, and a very dirty town centre. The BID installed a state-of-the-art CCTV system, a team of Town Rangers and a cleaning ‘Hit Squad’. Together these combat shoplifting, remove graffiti, clean up the town centre and provide a welcoming presence to encourage more shoppers to come in and to stay longer. Since the BID shoplifting has fallen by over 50% and footfall has increased (bucking the national downward trend in town centres).

Other towns have focussed on different issues. Brighton’s BID delivers award-winning Christmas lights, Dorchester’s focuses upon bringing down the cost of doing business by securing discounts on insurance, recycling and advertising. In Stratford upon Avon the BID promotes and advertises the town, puts on annual events and even runs street entertainment, helping to attract five million tourists per year.

Who developed the BID in Bournemouth?

Bournemouth Borough Council financed the development of the Bournemouth BIDs project by funding the initial development costs. The Council took guidance from the main business groups in the town, appointed a BID Coordinator, secured expert consultants, and provided substantial funding to take the project through to a ballot. However, the major decisions on the BID project are taken on behalf of the businesses themselves via the BID Board of Directors.

How does the BID work?

BIDs are run by independent, not-for-profit companies with a controlling board made up of, and elected by, representatives of those businesses involved. The BID Board meets regularly to oversee each project and to take the main decisions on behalf of all businesses.

To ensure the Board reflects the wishes and needs of all the businesses involved in each area there has been extensive consultation and engagement through mailings, individual and group meetings and through this website. Through consultation businesses identified the problems and issues they all face, and agreed how best to address them. This has lead to the production of a detailed business plan which contains the details of how the BID will tackle the problems if voted in. Finally the ballot ensures a consensus has been reached. The money is only collected if a majority of those who vote agree with the business plan. If businesses vote ‘yes’, the money is ring-fenced and can only be spent in the way the businesses have agreed.

How much will it cost my business?

The actual charging mechanism is simple and fair. The Town Centre BID would charge 1.5% of the Rateable Value of each eligible business within the BID area. The table below gives an idea of how much different types of business may be asked to invest, at different levy rates.

Example of business type Rateable Value 1.5% BiD levy
Small high street shop/café etc. £12,000 £180
Medium high street shop/café/bank etc. £30,000 £450
Large high street shop/café/bank etc. £50,000 £750
Large hotel £100,000 £1500
Major high street store £200,000 £3000
Major department store £1,000,000 £15,000

The idea is that businesses contribute relative to their size and turnover. The small amount a small business pays helps to secure a larger amount from bigger businesses. Taken all together the levy builds into a powerful fund which can deliver real benefits. In many cases businesses in a BID area are able to make direct savings of considerably more than the levy they pay.

Businesses classes solely as offices will be calculated at 1% of their rateable value.